Burlington police have arrested Jason J. Eaton, 48, in connection with the recent shooting of three college students of Palestinian descent. The incident took place Saturday night in Burlington, Vermont. Eaton was apprehended near the shooting scene and is expected to be arraigned this morning at Chittenden Criminal Courtroom in Vermont.
Abed Ayoub, the national executive director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), has stated that there is strong evidence to suggest that the students were targeted because of their Palestinian heritage. Ayoub pointed out that the victims were wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves, and were speaking Arabic at the time of the assault. He emphasized that the incident was not a robbery or domestic violence but a targeted shooting.
According to Ayoub, the ADC has observed an increase in anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian sentiment in the U.S., leading to targeted attacks against these communities. He referenced the murder of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume in Illinois last month as another example of such violence.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are also involved in the ongoing investigation, as announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland during a meeting with law enforcement leaders.
Eaton’s arrest followed a thorough investigation by Burlington police, who stated that their search of his nearby apartment provided sufficient probable cause to believe Eaton was responsible for the shooting. The police described the assailant as white and noted that he said nothing before firing at the victims.
Two of the three victims, all 20 years old, are U.S. citizens, while the third is a legal resident. They were all hospitalized following the incident. The police have not yet indicated whether they believe the shooting was ethnically motivated.